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Hurricanes and Typhoons

11:09 pm PHT

Call me insensitive but I can’t symphatize with the victims of both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita especially with all the public hullabaloo over these two hurricanes and the local and federal response of the United States government. Granted, these two hurricanes were unprecedented in their impact on the United States, but hurricanes/typhoons are a fact of life for me and millions of other people.

The Philippines has been hit with a lot of typhoons since it sits on the most active tropical cyclone basin in the world, the Western North Pacific Ocean Basin. In the last 15 years, this basin has seen 115 Category 4 and 5 typhoons compared to the 25 Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin, the stomping grounds of Katrina and Rita.

In fact typhoons are so common that typhoon categories are alien to most Filipinos. What we have are Public Storm Warning Signals given by PAGASA, the national weather bureau. The highest signal number is 4, which is equivalent to a strong Category 3 typhoon hitting an area within 12 hours. No higher signal numbers are given for Category 4 and 5—if it’s a strong typhoon, then it’s a strong typhoon.

Not only that, the Philippines is also hit with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Filipinos are no stranger to natural disasters. We live with it and manage pretty well given the circumstances. The only “disaster” I am worrying about is the politics in the country.

That’s the reason why I can hardly sympathize with Americans. It’s like a rich man complaining that he can’t get a parking slot while child beggars ask him for spare change. While that’s an extreme example, the idea is the same.

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